It was actually VT's fault that I wanted to see some rural places around Dorset - I had seen some pages about those place here and just HAD to visit Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door and Corfe Castle. The question was just how to do it - I don't like driving, and public transport is not good in this region, although it would have been possible.
I googled and found a guided tour that included exactly the places I wanted to see, and a few others. The company and itinerary looked good, and so I booked it.
The itinerary was: Ferry from Poole Harbour to the Isle of Purbeck - Studland Beach - Swanage - cliff top walk at Durlston Country Park - Corfe Castle - Kimmeridge (fossil hunting) - Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Man O'War
It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed everything we saw and did, it was simply stunning and the itinerary was very good. Unfortunately, though, the guide was not good and in fact one of the worst guides I ever had. However, I still believe that it is a good company. They sent a questionnaire about the tour afterwards and I wrote that the guide was not good, and they got back to me asking for further details. They were very friendly and promised to talk about it with the guide. I had the impression that they really cared about my feedback. Thus, I would definitely book with this company again.
I did the "Jurassic Coast" tour with them, but they also have a few others on offer, for example one to the Isle of Wight, one to the New Forest, and several "Express Tours" to places like Oxford and Bath. All tours leave from Bournemouth. The tours are small group tours in a small bus with no more than sixteen passengers.
Their website is: www.discoverdorset.co.uk
Picture 1 & 2: Man O'War and Durdle Door in Lulworth
Picture 3 & 4: Corfe Castle
Picture 5: Clifftop Walk in Durlston Country Park, Swanage
While walking through Bournemouth's city centre, I suddenly found the beautiful Bournemouth Arcade. I couldn't resist having a look - I like those arcades because they are not common in Germany, and I love their look, as if they were out of a BBC period drama :-)
This one is particularly nice because it does not only have a pretty interior, but the exterior is very elegant and impressive as well.
The arcade was constructed from 1866 to 1872 and today is still used as a shopping arcade, you can for example find a Waterstone's bookshop there.
In the beginning of the Jurassic Coast day trip, we took the ferry from Poole Harbour to the Isle of Purbeck, and therefore visited Poole Harbour. Ok, strictly speaking this of course belongs to Poole and not to Bournemouth, but I don't want to build a Poole page just because I saw two places there, and have not even been to the centre of the town. ;-)
Poole Harbour is a large natural harbour and with 36squ.km, it is one of the biggest in the world. Our guide told as that it is second only to Sydney Harbour - I am not sure because there are evidently several huge harbours in the world, but well, Poole Harbour is certainly one of the larger ones. It is only very shallow, though (the average depth is only 48cm).
There are several islands within the harbour, the most popular one being Brownsea Island. It is not an important harbour for trading anymore, but there are still ferries stopping here, as well as yachts and small private boats. While the town of Poole is located in the northern side of the harbour, the others sides are mostly nature reserves and protected areas.
As mentioned before, we took the small car ferry to the Isle of Purbeck. The passage only takes a few minutes, and it is much faster than driving around the whole length of the harbour would be. While we waited for the ferry, we had some time to wander around the shore and have a quick look. It was quite chilly and I did not feel good because I still recovered from a heavy cold, but I enjoyed the atmosphere.
If you are on the beach and look to the right, you will see some very special looking rocks. These are Old Harry Rocks, two big chalk stacks that you can see from almost every point at the coast in this region.
Old Harry Rocks are located on the Isle of Purbeck and they form the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast - this world heritage designated area starts here and goes all the way up to Exmouth in the west. Here in the east, there is the youngest part of the coast, and Old Harry Rocks are about 65 mio years old. The rocks were made by erosion - the permanent movement and pressure of the sea slowly erodes the coast and parts of it break down, while some parts that are sturdier are left to stand. These rocks originally were an arch, the middle part of the arch broke down, though and left only these few pillars.
Old Harry Rocks is quite a funny name, I think. There are two theories as to how this name developed: One is connected to a story of the devil who slept on these rocks, Old Harry is just another name for the devil. Another story says that the rocks were named after a pirate who lived in Poole.
There is a nice promenade above the beach which leads along the whole length of the beach within the borders of the city centre. I really recommend a walk along here as it provides the most beautiful views of the sea and the beach. Several hotels and the Russell Cotes Museum are also located here.
The promenade is connected to the beach by various ZigZag Ways (I saw that name in the city map and therefore think that this is the official name). These ways lead up to the promenade in a zig zag pattern. It is quite strenuous to walk up here, though, as it is quite steep.
Both on the eastern and on the western promenade there is a funicular that takes you up, but I have not done this.
Picture 1: The view to the east
Picture 2: Walking up a ZigZag Way
Picture 3: One of the funiculars
Picture 4: The promenade, and reflections on my lens ;-)
Picture 5: The view to the west, with the pier
I made a base in Bournemouth for nine days, but only spent three days in the town itself - on all other days I made day trips to other places. While I did one guided tour, I did the rest of the trips by train on my own.
The first one was to Dorchester where I visited the biggest iron age hill fort in Europe, Maiden Castle, explored the Roman heritage of the town and visited a few other interesting places.
The next day, I went to Winchester to see its fantastic cathedral with Jane Austen's grave, and many other great attractions this town has to offer.
The day after that I went to Winchester again, but took a bus to Chawton to see Jane Austen's House, the great Chawton House and the local church and then walked to Alton, the neighbouring town where there are more Jane Austen connections.
My next trip was to Lyme Regis which was a bit further away, but which was a fantastic and beautiful place with its archaeological sights and a special atmosphere, and of course more Jane Austen links..
My last trip was to Bath, quite far away, too, but I just wanted to go there again. I had already been there for one day, but wanted to revisit to see more of its beautiful architecture and its museums and uhm... see more Jane Austen things LOL :-)
I can absolutely recommend the trips to Dorchester, Winchester and Chawton/Alton - the train only takes about an hour to Dorchester and Winchester, so it is very easily done.
I am also happy that I went to Lyme Regis and Bath, but would not recommend it to everybody - the train journeys take about three hours to those places and are quite expensive, so I think most people would not like to do this.
Picture 1 & 5: Winchester Cathedral
Picture 2: Lyme Regis
Picture 3: Maiden Castle, Dorchester
Picture 4: Jane Austen's House, Chawton
Go east from Bournemouth Pier along the promenade and you come to Boscombe. It has a pier too. However, it looks like the end fell off. No theatre. No boozer (sorry, bar/restaurant). No kiddie rides.
Not sure if it was built that way or if the end collapsed.
My little Bournemouth guide describes Boscombe as “... the funkiest seafront in the country.”
I was on my bike when I visited, having already been around to Poole (see other tips) and by this time the sun was going behind clouds regularly. My hands were going blue. I didn’t hang around to check if the guide book is accurate.
I hired a bike on the Sunday morning (see transportation tip) for 4 hours, mainly to get over to see Poole. It’s the next town along the coast, heading west.
Actually, all I did was whet my appetite. The harbour area there - I mean the natural harbour, not the port, marinas etc - is lovely.
Stage 1 was along the promenade from Bournemouth to Sandbanks. Flat and long, but with lots of uncontrolled dogs and children desperately keen to jump under my wheels.
Stage 2 was right around Sandbanks - reputedly the most expensive real estate in the UK. Strange, as it’s all just a few feet above sea level and the sea level is rising. Not what I’d sink my millions into. (“Sink”... get it?) From there I could have taken a ferry to Swanage and (I think) Brownsea Island. Not trusting the April weather (sunny, but very cold and windy) I didn’t want to get stuck if it got cloudy and/or wet.
Stage 3 was in towards Poole itself for a while. Quite soon I got fed up with the traffic and turned back. The road does have cycle lanes, but they’re just marked out on the road with white lines and are not separate carriageways. The locals love their 4x4s, so it seemed like just a matter of time before some dimwit knocked me off my bike into the middle of next week. (Sorry, but so often the size of the car is in inverse proportion to the ability of the driver.)
Anyway, great fun. Exercise (gentle). Fresh sea air (vigorous, out of the north at 15mph). Delightful surroundings (apart from the traffic, kids, dogs).
The BIC - Bournemouth International Centre - was the main focus of my trip. Your typical conference/exhibition/concert venue.
I was there for a conference - that of Rotary International in Britain & Ireland (RIBI). My second such conference, but it was in Dublin the previous year. RIBI has its own secretariat to help run such events, so they tend to follow a standard format and the comparison is largely about the venue.
BIC was just as efficient as the RDS (Royal Dublin Showground), so nothing between them. Perhaps RDS has a little more charm. Maybe I just prefer Ireland to England... prejudice!
A point in favour of BIC is its location close to the beach, and all the hotels, food & drink which go with it. RDS is also well located, but outside the city centre.
A day out to Bournemouth to watch the air festival in the seaside area. I had a great time, weather wasn't that good that day, was raining a lot but still I enjoyed my time there, the air show was amazing!!
The roughly 12 mile stretch of coast between Sandbanks and Christchurch form part of the National Cycle Route 2 and most of this is off road and level. This is pleasant route, whether walking or cycling, however it should be noted that some seafront sections are prohibited to cyclists during the peak periods of 10 am to 6 pm during July and August.
There are plenty of cycle hire places in the area, including one on the seafront between the piers.
Link below has excellent map showing cycle routes (off-road sections in green) and the red stars denote cycle hire locations.
Surfing and paddle boarding. I was down in Bournemouth for a week over the school holidays and it's a great way to do something active on the beach and an unique way of seeing the beauty of Bournemouth and its beach from the water.
I'd recommend going to learn to surf and/or hire a surf or paddle board because Surf Steps has good facilities (heaters in the changing rooms-ideal for February!), friendly knowledgeable staff and provide a fun activity. One day we paddle boarded out to the artificial reef, it's cool looking out to sea and back to land standing on the water!
Thanks a lot guys!
We visited the new MegaPaintball indoor Paintball Arena in the centre of Bournemouth having previously played at their outdoor site in Dorchester - was an amazing experience and was impressed by the attention to detail of the themed setting and helpfulness of the staff.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for something to do in Bournemouth!
If you like a drop of proper beer then seek out The Goat and Trike. This slightly-out-of-town pub is owned by the Wiltshire brewery Wadworth (best known for their 6X) and whilst they always stock at least 5 of their own brews they also stock up to 11 guest ales from independent small breweries around the country. It's almost like visiting a mini beer festival!
The pub itself is characterful with its impressive Poole Pottery frontage and internal proper pub decor. It offers a good menu of reasonably-priced homecooked food and generally the staff are pleasant and professional.
On the half-a-dozen times I've visited the beer (whatever was on offer at the time) has always been spot-on but somehow the ambience always fails to excite - that's because no-one talks to each other unless they know them.
But worth a visit anyway (just bring your own company).
Distance 2 miles
This circular walk starts from the Durdle Door car park by taking the downhill inland route to the Heritage Centre at Lulworth Cove. The walk then continues over a steep hill to Durdle Door. From Durdle Door the walk returns to the car park.
This walk can take much longer than expected as there is so much to see and enjoy. Allow time to explore the Heritage Centre, Lulworth Cove and surrounding area, then maybe spend some time on the beach near Durdle Door.
The views you get are breathtaking. They are truly superb and gorgeous.
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